Where Were You?: America Remembers the JFK Assassination

Overview


November 22, 1963. A policeman?s wife was fetching their sick child from school. A young shoe store manager had no idea what lay in wait for him that day. A future president was tending to his farm. A future vice president was standing on the steps of his college library. A Georgetown student was looking forward to playing the piano for the president when he returned to Washington, DC, that evening. A future movie star was attending his second-grade art class.
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Where Were You?: America Remembers the JFK Assassination

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Overview


November 22, 1963. A policeman’s wife was fetching their sick child from school. A young shoe store manager had no idea what lay in wait for him that day. A future president was tending to his farm. A future vice president was standing on the steps of his college library. A Georgetown student was looking forward to playing the piano for the president when he returned to Washington, DC, that evening. A future movie star was attending his second-grade art class.
     Then the news rang out across airwaves, through telephone lines, and by word of mouth, plunging the country into shock and sorrow. It’s hard to imagine how the last fifty years would have unfolded if President John F. Kennedy had lived. Would Vietnam have dragged on until 1974? Would Nixon have come into power? It’s difficult to say—but, combining evocative archival images with the unique, first-person stories of those who lived through it, Where Were You? says what the history books can’t and offers a fresh look at what was, what is, and what might have been since that fateful day.
    In the two-hour NBC documentary event that this volume accompanies, special correspondent Tom Brokaw interviewed people close to the tragedy as well as former heads of state, politicians, authors, journalists, performers, musicians, and more. He asked them five simple questions, starting with: Where were you? Together, their words paint a rich and moving picture of a hopeful nation torn asunder by grief. It will remind those who lived it of a pivotal moment in American history, and it bears witness for all who follow.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/16/2013
Editors Russo and Moses capture the aura of an American tragedy through the collected memories of 50 people who lived through the Kennedy era. Subjects interviewed range from former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the shoe salesman who called the police about a suspicious looking character hanging about the streets of Oak Cliff, Texas, not long after Kennedy was shot. The book includes diverse perspectives, from assassination buffs, like lawyer Vincent Bugliosi, who believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to fringe political player Carlos Bringuier, a Cuban exile who crossed paths with Oswald in New Orleans and adamantly believes that Fidel Castro was involved in the assassination. Joe English describes the few days at the White House immediately after Kennedy's death, giving the reader an insider's view of the family and JFK's advisors. It was a surreal time that this book brings down to the emotional level, given as much time and focus to how people were feeling as to the nuances of when events happened. The editors craft a loose narrative with no definitive answers as to what happen, who did it, and why, except simply that it hurt at a deep level for many people. That's not news, but to hear it once again from so many different voices has a surprisingly powerful effect. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

An American Profile Editor's Pick

"A living time capsule ... Where Were You? tackles the Kennedy saga as a human interest story. ... The most compelling contributions are by little known players in the drama such as Buell Frazier, the unlucky co-worker of the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Marie Tippit, widow of the policeman whom Oswald also murdered that day."
Costco Connection

"The compelling mix of voices paints a vivid portrait."
American History magazine

"These intense episodes of remembrance make for a gripping collection that most people with an interest in JFK will want to read."
Library Journal, starred review

"Moving and powerful ... The themes of remembrance and appreciation remain constant throughout these pieces—all relevant and compiled with care. An engrossing, politically charged accompaniment."
Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
09/15/2013
On November 22, NBC will air a two-hour documentary hosted by Tom Brokaw in which notable men and women are filmed sharing their memories connected to the fatal day 50 years before. Each person spoke on camera for about 45 minutes; a great deal of footage was left on the cutting room floor. Hence this book, with full transcripts of each participant's words. Sections titled "Dallas," "Solemnities," "Politics," "Controversy," and "Culture" together hold over 50 pieces, each with a brief biographical intro at the top. The "Dallas" narratives, by those who were there, are the most riveting. Dan Rather's vivid three-plus pages in which he sees the president's car go by oddly fast and take a turn away from the expected route show the confusion of those present and a journalist's attempt to gain some control of the situation. Marie Tippit, widow of Officer J.D. Tippit, Oswald's other victim that day, speaks here publicly for the first time. Other highlights: Robert Caro's present-tense portrait of Lyndon Johnson; Joseph Califano on arranging Arlington burial details and on the Kennedy administration's tangles with Fidel Castro, not investigated by the Warren Commission; and former actress Nancy Olson Livingston on being the momentary focus of JFK's appetites. In the "Culture" section, the number of people believing that Oswald did not act alone reflects a common view but still may surprise. VERDICT These intense episodes of remembrance make for a gripping collection that most people with an interest in JFK will want to read.—MH
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
The companion volume to a forthcoming NBC documentary on the Kennedy assassination. Investigative TV reporter Russo and prime-time producer Moses collaborated on canvassing a wide range of personalities, including politicians, news correspondents, actors, best-selling authors, photojournalists and widowed spouses. Participants were surveyed with key questions on how the Kennedy shooting impacted life personally and nationally with the resulting essays condensed from hourlong personal interviews, then divided into sections on the event's location (Dallas), its politics, culture, and the ensuing controversy and speculation. A majority of these anecdotes and recollections are moving and powerful and will greatly fortify the televised coverage of this somber anniversary. Newsman Dan Rather writes that Kennedy's untimely demise made him a more skeptical reporter, yet the president's legacy as a whole renewed his sense of patriotism and "love of country." Marie Tippit, widow to a Dallas policeman caught in Lee Harvey Oswald's crossfire, reflects painfully on her loss, as do political duo Richard and Doris Kearns Goodwin, who jointly reflect on the unkind fate that befell the Kennedy family. With vivid narration, Robert Grossman recounts the sad, grueling hours he'd spent as one of the attending neurosurgeons searching for signs of life inside the president's slain body. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton offer nods to Kennedy's humanitarian, pro-peace administration, while Pat Buchanan brusquely admits that Kennedy's presidency was hardly "one of the greats." Thought-provoking conspiracy theories amplify an already emotionally charged landscape but are soon smoothed over with memories offered by distinguished celebrities Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Jay Leno and Jane Fonda, who fondly refers to the Kennedy clan as being "as close as we'll ever get to royalty." The themes of remembrance and appreciation remain constant throughout these pieces--all relevant and compiled with care. An engrossing, politically charged accompaniment to a TV event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762794560
  • Publisher: Lyons Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 529,388
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gus Russo

Gus Russo is the author of six books, including Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder, winner of the New York Book Festival’s History Prize. An investigative reporter for ABC News Special Reports (“Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years”) and CBS Reports, he served as lead reporter for Frontline’s landmark “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” He has written for American Heritage, Baltimore Sun, Book Forum, Huffington Post, The Nation, and Washington Post. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Harry Moses has written, directed, and produced numerous primetime specials for all major networks and cable channels, including nearly 100 stories for 60 Minutes. He has received Emmy, Peabody, and Directors Guild of America awards as well as a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He lives in New York City.

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